Last year was so easy we almost took it for granted. We had Luck and RG3 at the top, then a relatively predictable plateau of second and third tier talent. I was hardly perfect in my guesses, but much closer than I expect to be this season. Don’t worry, the header graphic was just a teaser, for now…
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel (OT – Texas A&M)
Kansas City has a new regime in power and Andy Reid now calling the shots. Some people think that this means the Chiefs will look for a new quarterback in the draft. While this may happen, taking any of the QBs in this years stock would be a major reach at this point. When in doubt, the best tackle often wins out (as it did in the Jake Long year). If Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, Tyler Wilson, or even Landry Jones amaze in the next four months, they could surge, but I think Reid goes looks at Matt Flynn, Kirk Cousins, Mark Sanchez, Blaine Gabbert, or even Mike Vick to find a viable signal caller next season.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jarvis Jones (LB – Georgia)
Like Kansas City, Jacksonville has to be cursing their timing for a top two pick. The one consolation is that they could very well be back here in 2014. The Jags are a mess and no one player will solve the situation. They do have talent at wide receiver and at least a respectable defense. They could go quarterback if a couple of the aforementioned players really surge, but I think they’ll go best available. Right now that looks to be Jarvis Jones, the uber athletic outside playmaker from Georgia.
3. Oakland Raiders - Star Lotulelei (DT – Utah)
The Raiders were abysmal in 2012, and could use a force on the defensive side of the ball. Star could be the top pick in the draft, but the Raiders will feel good grabbing him if he falls to three.
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Geno Smith (QB – West Virginia)
The Eagles still haven’t settled on a coach as of this mock, so its hard to tell which direction they are going. Nick Foles had flashes last season, but with Mike Vick on the way out, the new staff may look to make their own mark on the franchise.
5. Detroit Lions - Damontre Moore (DE – Texas A&M)
A lot was expected from the Lions this season. They did not live up to the hype. Despite a record setting performance by Calvin Johnson and decent effort by Matt Stafford, the Lions had a few holes that need filled. I think they will look to the defensive side of the ball and go with Moore.
6. Cleveland Browns - Chance Warmack (OG – Alabama)
The Browns were in a similar situation last year and did well selecting Trent Richardson who played well this year considering his injuries. Now, new coach Chud and the Browns will look to continue the rebuilding effort. I think they go after either defense or offensive line. Warmack put on a show in the NC, now he can lay a path for his old buddy Richardson. Maybe if the Browns keep drafting Bama players they will have better success talking Saban into coming to Cleveland down the road.
7. Arizona Cardinals - Mike Glennon (QB – NC State)
The Cardinals have an underrated defense and had a good season going before a horrific fall to end the year. Their need at quarterback is too big to ignore and they are one team I think could reach for an arm. Barkley has too similar of a skill set to Matt Leinhart, so he will likely scare off the Cards, but Glennon is a big QB with a powerful arm who can get Fitz and Floyd the ball deep.
8. Buffalo Bills - Matt Barkley (QB – USC)
Buffalo made it known that they plan to draft a young quarterback this season. They could wait a round and take new coach Doug Marrone’s old QB, Ryan Nassib (who I am high on). However, I think they can overlook some of his flaws and take the best option in Matt Barkley.
9. New York Jets - Manti Teo (LB – Notre Dame)
The Jets are losing a few linebackers this offseason and need a face lift for the franchise. Despite his struggles in the national championship, Teo brings two things sorely needed in Rex Ryan’s locker room, leadership and class.
10. Tennessee Titans - Jonathan Cooper (OG – North Carolina)
Chris Johnson has continues to regress over the last few seasons. He blames the line. While many question his diminishing effort, at this point he is the best thing the Titans have going. Give him a lineman and its time to put up or shut up. Otherwise, it may be CJnoK.
11. San Diego Chargers - Terrance Williams (WR – Baylor)
The Chargers may have been the most under-performing team last season. Almost everyone on the roster seemed to fall short of expectations. The good news? It finally got Norv Turner deservedly canned. I expect a great bounce-back season. If they are going to live up to my prophecy, they need another receiving threat. They never seemed to replace Vincent Jackson. I look for them to go with the best WR on the board. This will likely change in the coming months, but I like either local product Keenan Allen or Baylor wideout Terrance Williams.
12. Miami Dolphins - Eric Fisher (OT – Central Michigan)
The Dolphins might not be able to keep Jake Long this offseason. If they must let him go, Fisher provides them a young prodigy to grow into a solid tackle at the next level. He is next best tackle behind Joeckel.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Dee Milliner (CB – Alabama)
Some Bucs fans will brag about their great numbers against the run, but it was a bit of a mirage. After all, why walk when you can fly. The pass defense was so awful, the team nearly surrendered record numbers to opponents. Schiano will get better on this side of the ball. Luckily in this scenario, the best DB in the draft is still on the board. They would gladly take him and may even move up to go get him come April.
14. Carolina Panthers - Barkevious Mingo (DE/OLB – LSU)
The Carolina Panthers defense hasn’t been the same since Julius Peppers left town. The Panthers may go after a talented defensive tackle like Jonathan Hankins, but I think they will opt for an edge rusher like Mingo or maybe FSU’s Werner.
15. New Orleans Saints - Bjoern Werner (DE/OLB – Florida State)
He may already be off the board by here, but the Saints need a pass rusher to pair with the young Cameron Jordan. Werner is a beast and can help chase down Cam Newton and Matt Ryan for years to come.
16. St. Louis Rams - Tyler Eifert (TE – Notre Dame)
St. Louis gets two picks in the first thanks to the RG3 trade last year. They want offensive line, but with the top guys off the board here they get a weapon for Bradford. Something he desperately needs. Eifert is a quality tight end and will quickly become Sam’s go to option.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Alec Ogletree (LB – Georgia)
The Steelers defense still statistically produces, but needs to get younger. Ogletree may be a top 10 pick after all the workouts, but if he falls here Pittsburgh may forego a few other needs and grab this guy. He would be a great youthful addition to an aging defense.
18. Dallas Cowboys - Jonathan Hankins (DT – Ohio State)
The Cowboys are transitioning their defense and can bring in quality at defensive tackle with options of Hankins, Floyd (Florida), and Richardson (Mizzou). I like Hankins as a powerful pile mover and a guy that developed well during his time in Columbus.
19. New York Giants - Dion Jordan (DE/OLB – Oregon)
The Giants have options but look for them to nab a new pass rusher with Osi headed for free agency. Other option here include OT Fluker, DE Ansah, and DT Sheldon Richardson.
20. Chicago Bears - Kevin Minter (ILB – LSU)
This is a bit of a reach but with Ogletree and Te’o off the board and the looming retirement of Urlacher, the Bears need to fill the linebacker position. Minter is a fine talent that grades well. If he can have solid post-season workouts, look for him to move into the first round.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Giovani Bernard (RB – North Carolina)
As I said last year, the law firm (BGE) is only a complementary back. I wanted the Bengals to take David Wilson last year and I still think they will regret not doing so. This year, they likely get their pick of the litter. I believe Bernard will beat out Le’veon Bell, Montee Ball, Eddie Lacy, and Kenjon Barner to be the top RB in the class. He is a strong runner with quickness and looks to be a feature back in the NFL. Oh yeah, and he’s not too bad of a return man either:
22. St. Louis Rams (from WAS) - D.J. Fluker (OT – Alabama)
St. Louis now is able to sure up their offensive line and protect their young quarterback. Bradford will start running out of excuses if he doesn’t produce in 2013. Although the Rams do still need to add a wideout in free agency or later in the draft.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Keenan Allen (WR – Cal)
The Vikings have one thing for certain. They don’t need a running back. And despite some issues their line and quarterback seem like they are moving in the right direction. Similar to Bradford before, Ponder needs weapons. The annual IR spot reserved for Percy Harvin leaves the Vikings without playmakers to throw the ball to. Keenan Allen from Cal could become a very good NFL wideout. Also in the picture are Cordarrelle Patterson (Tenn), Justin Hunter (Tenn), and DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson).
24. Indianapolis Colts - Jonathan Banks (CB – Mississippi State)
The Colts had an amazing season surpassing almost anyone’s expecations. However, for this not to be sophomore slump, Indy has holes to fill. Primarily, they need offensive lineman and defensive backs. With no real strong lineman left here looks for them to go with the big corner Banks (6’2″) or Logan Ryan (Rutgers).
25. Seattle Seahawks - Shariff Floyd (DT – Florida)
Many predictions are calling for a wide receiver here for the Seahawks, but I think Golden Tate took great strides this season and Sidney Rice still has some left in the tank. Additionally, the talent left just doesn’t warrant a reach. Look for the Seahawks to even further solidify the defense and take the best available player. Here that is Floyd.
26. Green Bay Packers - Barrett Jones (C/G/T – Alabama)
Green Bay had a little bit of a wakeup call against San Francisco getting beat rather convincingly in the second half. Much of that was thanks to consistent pressure on Rodgers. Solving that will be an offseason mission. They could go running back, but that will wait for a later round, same goes for linebacker unless a very good player falls. Barrett Jones give the Packers versatility and a winners attitude.
27. Houston Texans - Cordarrelle Patterson (WR – Tennessee)
Houston continues to struggle to find another option past Daniels and Johnson. Their defensive holes should be filled by players getting healthy on the offense. While I might argue a quarterback would be a good fit, I realize people still have some unknown faith in Schaub. If he is going to actually going to get it done, he’ll need more help. Enter Patterson who stands 6’3″ and can catch about anything.
28. Denver Broncos - Logan Ryan (CB – Rutgers)
After watching Torrey Smith torch the Broncos like a video game, its safe to say there is one glaring need in Denver. A cornerback, even if its a reach, is a must. There will be debate between a few options including Xavier Rhodes (FSU) and Ryan, but I like the Rutgers project to win out.
29. New England Patriots - Matt Elam (S – Florida)
The Pats need help in the secondary even with the trade and emergence of Aqib Talib (assuming he stays in NE). A top safety prospect would give them a great presence in the defensive backfield.
30. Atlanta Falcons - Zach Ertz (TE – Stanford)
This is likely the last go round for Tony Gonzalez and after becoming so reliant on the tight end position, Ryan will want a viable replacement. Ertz and Eifert are both first round prospects and either would fill Gonzalez’s shoes well.
31. Baltimore Ravens - Kenny Vaccaro (S – Texas)
The Ravens would like to get a linebacker in an attempt to replace Ray Lewis, but outside of Minter or Teo falling, that likely won’t happen. They can however lock down a replacement for Ed Reed. Both Vaccaro and Elam could be available for the Ravens to choose from if the Pats go a different direction or if the playoffs go different than I have here.
32. San Francisco 49ers - Sheldon Richardson (DT – Missouri)
San Francisco seems to have few holes with great players at a number of positions. At this point, they go for value and that is Richardson in this mock. The tackle is a disruptive force and would further the fear in opposing quarterbacks who are already wetting the bed when they see the Niners.